COGCC disputes network speaker

RANGELY — A spokesperson for the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) took exception to statements made by a speaker at the monthly networking meeting held in Rangely.
At Rangely’s monthly community networking meeting in May, a special report presented by Sandy Been of EIS Solutions in Grand Junction outlined planned regulations and legislation from the state and federal government that Been said would cripple or almost destroy the area’s economy.
Been told the group there is a plan that would require all drilling rigs and related equipment to be removed from the Piceance Basin from Jan. 1 to March 31 every year. COGCC spokesperson Deb Frazier said that’s simply not true.
“There is no plan that requires that drilling rigs and related equipment be removed from the Piceance or any energy producing basin during any time,” Frazier noted. “In some areas of the Piceance, drilling activity would be limited between Jan. 1 to March 31, but production activity would continue.”
Frazier also noted the proposed new rules provide energy companies with a variety of options for minimizing any new drilling restrictions to less than three months in most areas.
She did concede there will be some parcels within the Piceance Basin with the three-month restriction on drilling, but most of the acreage in the Piceance would be available for drilling most of the year.
Frazier also added that the proposed new rules apply only to new drilling, not existing drilling and production operations.
Been had noted in her presentation last month that, since it would take about six weeks on both ends of Jan. 1 to March 31 to mobilize and then de-mobilize, it would be an almost six month drilling ban for local energy companies and businesses throughout our communities.
Frazier said this was also inaccurate.
“There is no de-mobilization required,” Frazier said, “therefore the claim six weeks on each side is wrong. There is no new rule that would ban all drilling in the Piceance — or any other basin — for six months.
Frazier noted that in Colorado, 127 drilling rigs are operating statewide with most of the rigs located in Garfield and Weld counties. She said most of the oil and gas operations — thousands of them — in the state are producing wells, which would not be subject to the restrictions.
Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, under two bills passed by the Colorado legislature and signed into law by Gov. Bill Ritter in 2007, is drafting new rules to balance energy development with protecting water quality, public health and wildlife.
About 20 percent of the current rules will be modified because of the scope of the current energy boom where, in some areas, drilling is occurring with a few hundred feet of homes, businesses, drinking water sources and schools. In areas where development is occurring in remote settings, some of the health rules won’t apply.
According to Frazier, it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.
COGCC will continue taking input through June. The final rules will be released in July.
A public forum will be held June 10 at the Two Rivers Center in Grand Junction from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. All community members who will be impacted are encouraged to attend and add your voices.
For more information about COGCC activities, visit http://oil-gas.state.co.us/.